The New England Patriots rarely pick in the top third of the NFL Draft's first round, but they are on track to land in that range after a poor start to the 2020 season.
The Patriots were crushed 33-6 by the San Francisco 49ers in Sunday's Week 7 game at Gillette Stadium.
The loss dropped the Patriots' record to 2-4. New England has lost three consecutive games for the first time since 2002 and sits in third place in the AFC East -- a division this franchise has won in 11 straight seasons.
If the season ended today, the Patriots would own the No. 11 overall pick in the 2021 draft. The Pats haven't picked that high since 2008 when they selected linebacker Jerod Mayo at No. 10 overall -- a pick acquired via trade. New England's own first-rounder in 2008 was forfeited as punishment for Spygate.
Here's the updated order of the top 18 picks (non-playoff teams) in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft, as of Monday afternoon (via Tankathon).
- New York Jets (0-7)
- New York Giants (1-6)
- Jacksonville Jaguars (1-6)
- Atlanta Falcons (1-6)
- Miami Dolphins, via Houston Texans (1-6)
- Minnesota Vikings (1-5)
- Cincinnati Bengals (1-5-1)
- Dallas Cowboys (2-5)
- Washington Football Team (2-5)
- Los Angeles Chargers (2-4)
- New England Patriots (2-4)
- Denver Broncos (2-4)
- Carolina Panthers (3-4)
- Miami Dolphins (3-3)
- Las Vegas Raiders (3-3)
- Detroit Lions (3-3)
- San Francisco 49ers (4-3)
- New Orleans Saints (4-2)
The Patriots aren't bad enough -- at least not yet -- to have a realistic chance of entering the "Tank for Trevor" group. Clemson star Trevor Lawrence is expected to be the No. 1 pick in 2021 and projects to be a franchise quarterback.
There are still 10 teams ahead of the Patriots in the race for the top selection, and many of these clubs are very, very bad. Sure, the Pats have played poorly through seven games, but most of these teams are far worse than New England.
For example, the New York Jets are one of the worst teams we've seen in the last 10 years and have a strong chance to finish 0-16. It's also hard to imagine either the New York Giants or Jacksonville Jaguars winning more than two or three games.
So, while it probably makes sense for the Patriots to sell at the upcoming Nov. 3 trade deadline and stockpile future draft picks, any subtractions to their roster are unlikely to make it bad enough where the team has a realistic shot at a top five pick by the end of the regular season.